This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology. You can visit my web pages here, but note that they are not kept up-to-date.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Stephen Carlson on Gal 2:12, and the Antioch/Sydney incident

Stephen Carlson has generously made his dissertation available online, here. On pages 162-4 he discusses the textual variants in Gal 2:12, building on his 2006 blog post. He shows that, instead of  ἦλθον (they came), Paul wrote ἦλθεν (he came), which is witnessed by most of the best manuscripts. This is an immensely important finding and gives us the following text for Gal 2:11-12.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; 12 for before certain people came from James, he used to heat with Gentiles. But when he came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.
11 τε δὲ ἦλθεν Κηφᾶς εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν. 12 πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνήσθιεν: ὅτε δὲ ἦλθενὑπέστελλεν καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτὸν, φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς.
Carlson writes,
Paul’s account of the Antioch incident begins with a statement that when Cephas came (ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν Κηφᾶς) to Antioch, he confronted him.  After giving background information in v.12a that Cephas used to eat with gentiles before the coming of people from James, Paul restarts the account by repeating the triggering phrase ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν in v.12.  On this reading, only the arrival of Cephas triggered the incident, which is what Paul claimed in v.11.  With the ἦλθον reading, on the other hand, there are two separate triggering events for the Antioch incident.  
On any hypothesis, Paul first mentions the dispute with Cephas (2:11) and then mentions Cephas's earlier practice of eating with Gentiles (2:12a). At first sight this time jump seems unnecessary. Why did Paul not place the events in chronological order? Well, the text is explicable if Cephas's practice of eating with Gentiles was before Paul's Jerusalem visit of Gal 2:1-10. That fact gave Paul no choice but to skip back in time. Paul therefore wrote Gal 2:1-10 and Gal 2:11 in their correct chronological sequence, then went back in time to give the background information about Cephas's earlier practice in Gal 2:12a, and then resumed his chronological sequence in Gal 2:12b. He indicates that he is resuming his chronological sequence by repeating the phrase, ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν. Cephas presumably visited Antioch twice and ate with Gentiles on his first visit, but not on this second. This confirms the ἦλθεν reading and gives us the following sequence of events:

1. Cephas visited Antioch and ate with Gentiles (Gal 2:12).
2. Some men from James arrived in Antioch (Gal 2:12; Acts 15:1).
3. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1, Acts 15:2-3) and met with James, Cephas and John (Gal 2:1-10), and (then) with a larger assembly (Acts 15:4-29).
4. Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch (Acts 15:30-35).
5. Peter made a second visit to Antioch and did not eat with Gentiles (Gal 2:11, 12b)

It can be seen that the men from James of Gal 2:12 can be equated with the men from Judea of Acts 15:1. Now, Acts 15:24 suggests that James and the elders had sent these men, but had not approved their message. We therefore have no solid evidence that James opposed the inclusion of Gentiles. Placing Gal 2:1-10 after Peter's meals with Gentiles has the further advantage of explaining why Peter changed his policy. Paul had graciously agreed to take over Peter's tasks among the Gentiles, allowing Peter to focus exclusively on the Jews (Gal 2:7-9), so it was subsequently expedient for Peter to eat with Jews.

Carlson concludes that, "Instead of being intimidated at Antioch into changing his mind, Cephas came to Antioch with no intention of eating with the gentiles." I fear that Carlson has gone beyond the evidence here. Cephas could have decided not to eat with gentiles after finding members of the circumcision faction in Antioch. Perhaps the men from James stayed in Antioch while Paul visited Jerusalem, and perhaps they were still in Antioch when Cephas came back.

I have argued at length that the background to Galatians is as follows.
1. James and the elders wrote a decree, saying that Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised.
2. Paul visited (south) Galatia and delivered the decree, but circumcised Timothy, a Gentile.
3. Paul left Galatia.
4. Some agitators in Galatia debated with the Galatian believers:
Agitators:  You should be circumcised because the scriptures require it. Paul knows this and that is why he circumcised Timothy with the intention of preaching circumcision in his new mission fields. 
Galatians:  But Paul told us that circumcision was not necessary.
Agitators:  He does not really believe that. He delivered the decree out of loyalty to the Jerusalem church leaders (who are not experts in the scriptures). He preaches against circumcision to you because your territory comes under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem church.

This ties in nicely with the  ἦλθεν reading of 2:12, which exonerates James. This dramatically changes our understanding of why Paul brings up the Antioch incident. It is usually supposed that Paul is here trying to discredit Cephas. However, on my hypothesis, Gal 2:11-14 serves to show the Galatians that Paul's support for Gentile liberty was genuine and not just motivated by a desire to please Cephas and the other Jerusalem church leaders. To illustrate this I will quote the "Sydney incident", which is part of an account of someone's experience in the Australian army:
One evening my section was on a boys night out on the town in Sydney, doing bit of a pub crawl. I was not a heavy drinker, so I was the only sober one in the group by 9. 00 p.m. In one of our excursions across a park, several of us walked passed a couple of gay men innocuously holding hands as they strolled through the park. As they walked by, however, one of my group (the highest ranked member in fact) began yelling all sorts of hateful things interspersed with vicious expletives at them. He pushed his way over towards them as the couple quickly hurried their pace. Sensing the potential for fruitless violence at two innocent citizens, I grabbed my superior (and let it be known that this guy was built like Sylvester Stallone in his 80s physique) and dragged him back towards the group
Now, why did the author write this? At first sight it might appear that his purpose was to show that the Australian army contains drunken homophobes, even among the higher ranks. However, the original readers of this piece, which was written by a famous biblioblogger, knew the background: the blogger had been accused of bigotry and was writing to have us believe that he was not homophobic. This piece is not about the Australian army at all. It is about the blogger himself. In the parentheses he slips in the key pieces of information that he wants us to know: he had courageously been the first to take a stand against homophobia by taking on a man who was his superior officer and was aggressive and built like Sylvester Stallone. The emphasis in this story is on the commitment of the author.

Similarly, Paul illustrates his own commitment to Gentile liberty by bringing up the Antioch incident. He slips in the facts that he had taken on Peter, a high ranking apostle, and had opposed him to his face. He lets the readers know that he had been the only one to take a stand and had opposed Peter in the presence of all. All this is written with the sole purpose of demonstrating the genuineness of his commitment to Gentile liberty. He later reinforces the point by pointing to his persecutions (Gal 5:11) and wounds (Gal 6:17). Both the blogger and Paul have had their commitment questioned, and both respond by pointing to the physical risks that they took and the fact that they had taken a solitary stand on the issue in question and had done so against an authority figure.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Preference for praenomina in the New Testament

This is, I think, the first study of the conventions governing the use of Latin first names (praenomina) in the New Testament. I will show that believers, and especially gracious hosts, in the New Testament tended to be called by their praenomina.

Following  E.A. Judge , I suggest that Roman citizens were often selected to be church envoys in the NT because of the protection that their Roman status gave them for this dangerous work. This explains the very high proportion of Latin names, particularly among Paul's close companions. In the New Testament we have about 53 male believers who had Greek names and 27 with Latin names. In the first century male Roman citizens held three names: a praenomen, nomen, and cognomen. What seems to have gone unnoticed is that out of the 27 men with Latin names, about 30% are named with a praenomen. This is a very high proportion, even allowing for the possibility that some of the Greek names were also cognomina. Eleanor Dickey (1) reports that when Romans were named by a single name, the praenomen was used only 6% of the time. The praenomina in the NT are

1. Gaius (1 Cor 1:14; Rom 16:23)
2. Gaius (3 John 1)
3. Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37, 39), who seems to be in view in Col 4:10 also.
4. Mark (Philemon 24), whom I take to be different from the Mark of Acts.
5. Lucius (Acts 13:1), whom I take to be the same person as the Lucius of Rom 16:21 and the Luke of Philemon 24 (and Col 4:14).
6. Titus (Gal 2:1,3; 2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13, 14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18; 2 Tim 4:10; Tit 1:4).
7. Gaius (Acts 20:4)
8. Gaius (Acts 19:29)

Others will find more Lukes and fewer Marks, but will arrive at a similar total number of people. The only (presumed) non-believer who is given a Latin praenomen is:
9. Publius (Acts 28:7-8), who hosted Paul and his companions in Malta.

Why are these men named using praenomina? Can it be explained by the contexts in which they are mentioned, and the social ethos of the early church?

As is widely agreed, praenomina were used primarily by family members and intimate friends (2). Since the early Christians were a close-knit group and considered each other to be "family" (consider the fictive kinship language of e.g. Mark 3:34), we should not be surprised that they often used praenomina. Romans preferred to use their nomina and cognomina in public because a praenomen alone did not necessarily display their citizen status. It is sometimes inferred from this that the NT praenomina were held by non-citizens. Bauckham writes, "Those whose Latin name is merely a common Latin praenomen (Marcus, Lucius) were certainly not Roman citizens" (3). For a similar view see Judge p111. However, not everyone was keen to display his high status (4) and it is particularly doubtful that Christians were so snobby about their Roman citizenship. Paul, at least, seems to have been reluctant to display his citizenship (Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-28). Since, in Christ, there was no "slave or free" (Gal 3:28), it would not seem right for citizen believers to laud it over the others by flaunting their nomina and cognomina. The praenomen had the advantage of being more humble. The humility of early Christian naming conventions is shown by three observations:
1) The authors of the gospels and Acts and Hebrews avoid naming themselves at all, as does Paul in 2 Cor 12:2-5.
2) Hypocoristic name forms are common in the New Testament (see appendix 1).
3) Paul himself probably chose his name, which means "small", out of humility (see here).

Let us now examine the data on individual holders of Latin praenomina in the NT to see whether they were Roman citizens and why their praenomina are used.

Publius of Malta
Publius (Acts 28:7-8) was the leading man of Malta so he was undoubtedly a Roman citizen. Commentators have puzzled over why Luke uses his praenomen instead of nomen or cognomen. The explanation can be found, I think, in his relationship to the author of Acts. He "entertained us hospitably for three days" and Paul visited his sick father (presumably in his house) and cured him. Luke is saying that Publius was a gracious host. The use of his praenomen in this passage serves to reinforce the point that Publius had treated Paul and Luke as intimate friends. Publius might well have invited Paul and Luke to use his first name, especially after they cured his father.

Gaius of Corinth
Just as Luke uses the praenomen of his host in Malta; in the same way Paul uses the praenomen of his host in Corinth (1 Cor 1:14; Rom 16:23). Some or perhaps all of those whom Paul greets in Rom 16:3-15 had travelled (returned) to Rome from the east and Gaius may have hosted them during their journey to Rome. In any case, he hosted Paul and the whole Corinthian church. His house must have been large so it is likely that he was a Roman citizen or freedman, rather than a Greek who had only the one name. The use of his praenomen here suggests that he treated his guests as intimate friends or family members. Rather than lording it over them, he encouraged them to use his praenomen. Now, it seems to me that the kind of man who would allow people to know him by his praenomen would not be the kind of person who would have been comfortable with the fact that high status believers humiliated low status believers in his house. This suggests that Gaius was not complicit in the problems that arose in the church meetings (1 Cor 11:17-33). He must, therefore, have been ineffective in asserting his authority as host over the arrogant Corinthian believers. This neatly explains why Paul must urge the Corinthians to show the household of Gaius Titius Justus Stephanas (who was one man) "a little respect" in 1 Cor 16:15-18.

Gaius of 3 John
Gaius is urged to support traveling Christians (3 John 5-8) so he was probably wealthy and likely a Roman citizen. The author writes:
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
The use of the praenomen is not surprising because the author and Gaius were intimate friends and the author may have wanted to emphasize their closeness in order to more effectively influence his friend. Dickey (p65) mentions that praenomina could sometimes be used when making requests.

John-Mark
Acts 12:12-13 tells us that "many had gathered" in the house of Mary, who had a servant and an outer gateway and was the mother of John-Mark. If Col 4:10 is correct, he was a cousin of Barnabas, who was a benefactor (Acts 4:36-37). Both sources therefore suggest that he was from a wealthy family, and this makes it more likely that he was a Roman citizen. Williams (5) points out that the name "Mark" was often held by Jews who were Roman citizens and only in Cyrenaica was it held by non-citizen Jews. In any case he was surely given the name "Mark" at birth. The common assumption that he took that name only when he became a missionary is untenable since the name had nothing to recommend it. The name "Mark" has no appropriate meaning and nor is it a close homophone of "John". Nor is it likely that a Jerusalem Jew, who was not already a Roman citizen, would associate himself with the Roman administration by choosing a Latin name. All the other double names in the NT make better sense (Saul-Paul, Silas-Silvanus, Simon-Peter, Jesus-Justus, Joseph-Barnabas etc.).

The others
In previous blog posts I have discussed the Mark of Philemon 24, Lucius/Luke, and Titus-Timothy. These, along with the Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19:29) and Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4) and John-Mark, were probably all travelers. The Mark of Philemon 24 and Lucius (Rom 16:21), you see, send greetings because they had met (many of) the addressees on their travels. Excluding those with purely Semitic names, about 40% of those who travelled on church business in the New Testament had Greek names, about 30% had Latin praenomina, and about 30% had either a nomen or a Latin cognomen. Why do so many of Paul's travel companions have Latin praenomina? A very low percentage of non-Romans were called by a praenomen (See appendix 2), so it is likely that many of these men were freeborn citizens (or freedmen). Presumably believers who were Roman citizens travelled more than those who were not, because they could afford it and because their citizenship gave them protection.

Given that about 60% of Roman citizens were called either Lucius, Gaius, or Marcus, great confusion would have been created if the use of praenomina had become universal among the Christians. The use of praenomina, while it seems to have been favored, would then be self-limiting.

I am grateful for the feedback that I received from E.A. Judge on these issues. My thinking also owes much to Larry Welborn (An End to Enmity p298-9), who suggests that Gaius of Corinth is called by his praenomen out of humility, but he oddly ascribes this humility to Paul rather than to Gaius.

Appendix 1: Hypocoristic names in Acts-Revelation
Here are the diminutive forms and their probable formal equivalents.

Priscilla (Acts 18:2, 18, 26); Prisca (1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:3; 2 Tim 4:19)
Sopater (Acts 20:4); Sosipater (Rom 16:21)
Apollos (Acts 18:24; 19:1; 1 Cor 1:12; 3:4, 5, 6, 22; 4:6; 16:12; Tit 3:13); Apollonios
Stephanas? (1 Cor 1:16; 16:15, 17)
Epaphras (Philemon 23; Col 4:12); Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25)
Demas (Philemon 24; Col 4:14); Demetrios (Acts 19:24, 38)
Lukas (Philemon 24; Col 4:14); Lucius (Acts 13:1; Rom 16:21)
Patrobas (Rom 16:14); Patrobios?
Olympas (Rom 16:15); Olympiodoros
Hermas (Rom 16:14); Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15)
Zenas (Tit 3:13); Zenodotos
Artemas (Tit 3:12); Artemidoros
Antipas (Rev 2:13) Antipatros


Appendix 2: It was not common for non-citizens to hold a Latin Praenomen.
There were only about 15 praenomina in common use. Here is the list with their approximate frequencies:
Lucius 21%; Gaius 21%; Marcus, 16%; Quintus, 10%; Publius, 9%; Gnaeus 4%; Aulus 4%; Titus 3%; Sextus 2%; Manius, Numerius, Decimus, Servius, Tiberius, Spurius, each 1%. Of those recorded in the six volumes of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, less than 1% held a Latin praenomen as his only recorded name, and some of these may have been citizens. The Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part III The Western Diaspora 330 BCE-650 CE gives the names of 810 male Jews who have Greek names, and 326 with Latin names. Of these 326 males, only 24 are known to us only by a praenomen, and 5 of these 24 are almost certainly Roman citizens. The Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part 1 Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE identifies 2509 male Jews, of which 71 have Latin names. Of these 71, only 9 possible non-citizens possess a Latin Praenomen. The index of Josephus contains not a single praenomen that was held by a non-citizen.

The above statistics may underestimate the occurrence of praenomina in the first century since the sources cover wider spans of time. Much more needs to be done to reconstruct the frequencies of the praenomina in question in the first century in the relevant regions among Romans and non-Romans. However, it does seem that it was not common for non-citizens to boast a Latin praenomen.

Update:
Following helpful comments from Richard Bauckham, I have assembled statistics for the first century.



Christians in the New Testament Probably first century men in Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity IIIFirst century men in Lexicon of Greek Personal Names Vols 1-5
1 Number of men with Greek names5353011068
2 Number of men with Latin names27100
3 Number of men recorded by Latin praenomen only814203

Row 3 divided by row 115%2.6%1.8%

Row 3 divided by row 230%14%

It can be seen that, even in the first century, it was rare for men to hold a Latin praenomen as their only recorded name. The number of such men in our sources is only 2% of the number of men with Greek names. From this we should expect to have only one believer in the New Testament recorded by praenomen alone.

Notes on how these statistics were compiled:
The 14 men with praenomen alone in the LJNLAIII comprise 9 men from Cyrenaica who are dated, "Pre-117CE", 1 from Cyrenaica on a "pre-70CE" ossuary, 3 others from Cyrenaica who are definitely first century, and 1 from Egypt. I did not include a certain Lucius or his son Lucius because the father was likely a Roman citizen who had passed his praenomen to his son. Similarly I did not include Quintus or his son, Quintus.
For the LGPN the statistics are limited to those who are designated as certainly first century. I estimated the number of first century men with Greek names by counting those on pages 50, 100, 150, 200, etc. in each of the six volumes.


Notes
(1) Latin Forms of Address p56
(2) Adams writes, "The praenomen was the most intimate of the tria nomina. It was mainly used within the family and between close friends." (Conventions of Naming in Cicero, The Classical Quarterly XXVIII, p161).
Harold Axtell, Men's Names in the Writings of Circero, Classical Philology X 1915, p399, writes, "In cases other than that of direct address the praenomen is more freely used to indicate intimacy".
(3) Paul, Luke and the Graeco-Roman World, p204
(4) Concerning Asia, Kearsley finds evidence that men were not always keen to indicate their high status in Greek inscriptions and he suggests that this may mean that estimates of the number of Roman citizens may need to be increased. Greeks and Romans in imperial Asia: mixed language inscriptions and linguistic evidence for cultural interaction until the end of AD III, 2001. p150-1, brought to my attention by E.A. Judge.
(5)  Williams, "Palestinian Jewish Personal Names in Acts" in The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting Vol 4 p105

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Saul-Paul got his names

Here I argue that Saul-Paul received that name "Saul" only after he moved to Jerusalem and that he later took the name "Paul", which means "small", out of modesty.

His name "Saul"
Saul-Paul was born in Tarsus and moved to Jerusalem as a child (Acts 22:3). It is often assumed that he  held both names from birth. This is unlikely because the giving of double names at birth was relatively rare among diaspora Jews. Williams finds just 54 ancient diaspora Jews who held double names (1). These had no tendency to have names with a phonetic similarity to each other, but Palestinian Jews often took names that sounded similar to their Hebrew name (Silas-Silvanus, Joseph-Justus-Barsabbas, Barkosiba-Barkokhba, Abram-Abraham, Sarai-Sarah, Oshea-Joshua). The similarity in sound between "Saul" and "Paul" therefore suggests that this double name was not completed before Paul moved to Jerusalem. Also, Bauckham writes, "the name Saul is very rare among Diaspora Jews but relatively common in Palestine" (2). And for what it is worth, archaeology has found no Hebrew name in Tarsus.

It is much more likely that Saul received his name when (or after) he moved to Jerusalem. Saul, being a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), will have had Latin names at birth but such names would not have served him well in Jerusalem. As Bauckham writes, "A Latin name would not imply culture, as a Greek name might, but alignment with Roman political rule. Few Palestinian Jews would have wanted a name that proclaimed allegiance to Rome."(3) Saul needed his Hebrew name to integrate into Judean society. Possible parallels may be found in inscriptions at Jaffa that refer to an Isaac of Tarsus and a Judah son of Joseph of Tarsus.

In any case, he belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (Phil 3:5) and was no doubt named after king Saul, the most famous member of that tribe (1 Sam 9:1-2).

His name "Paul"
The name "Paul" is introduced in Acts 13:6-10
When they had gone through the island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?"
Bar-Jesus, like Saul, had a double name. As I explained in my last post, this false prophet had taken the name of Elam, the grandson of Noah. He, like Simon Magus, had probably become a follower of Jesus of sorts and had presumptuously taken the name "Bar-Jesus", which means "son of Jesus" or "disciple of Jesus". In any case, whether Bar-Jesus was a follower of Jesus or not, Paul will have thought that he did not live up to his name. In this passage Luke records Paul confronting Elymas's presumptuous name-taking by calling him "son of the devil". Paul is telling Bar-Jesus here, "you are not the son of Jesus, you are the son of the devil. Note that the ancients were much more attuned to the meaning of names than we are. The meaning of prophets' names was particularly important (consider the attention given in the New Testament to the names of Jesus and John the baptist, and the new names given to Barnabas, Barkokhba and other prophets).

It is often said that the name "Paul" is introduced here because Saul was moving from a Jewish mission field to a Gentile one. However, if that were the case we would expect the name "Paul" to have been introduced at Acts 13:7 or Acts 13:1 or even Acts 11:25 or Acts 11:30. The name "Paul" is introduced in Acts 13:9 when Paul is addressing a Jew, not a Gentile. I do not doubt that Paul used his Latin name when addressing Gentiles, but that is not why Luke introduces the name "Paul" here.

Rather, Luke introduces Saul's other name, Paul, in the context of this discussion of the presumptuous name-taking by Elymas/Bar-Jesus. The name Paul means small and Luke is surely here contrasting  this humble name-meaning with the arrogant names of the false prophet. Luke records Paul's criticism of the name "Bar-Jesus" and points out that Paul himself was satisfied with a name with a much more humble meaning.

While it is possible that Saul held the name Paul from birth, there are reasons to suppose that he took the name while he was a Christian, probably after meeting Sergius Paulus:

1. Paul's response to arrogant rivals is always to take the humbler part to show up their hubris. Consider  the "fools speech" in 2 Corinthians where he says, "I will boast of the things that show my weakness", and consider the way be points to his lowliness in 1 Cor 4:8-13 to counter those who were "puffed up". It is therefore possible that Saul took the humble name, "Paul", in response to the magician's arrogant names.

2. Humility was an integral part of Paul's identity. He writes:
"For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Cor. 15:9)
Augustine, who was much closer than modern commentators to ancient naming conventions (4), realized that Paul took his name out of humility:

"Christ then by one word laid Saul low, and raised up Paul; that is, He laid low the proud, and raised up the humble. For what was the reason of his change of name, that whereas he was afore called Saul, he chose afterwards to be called Paul; but that he acknowledged in himself that the name of Saul when he was a persecutor, had been a name of pride? He chose therefore a humble name; to be called Paul, that is, the least. For Paul is, "the least." Paul is nothing else but little. And now glorying in this name, and giving us a lesson of humility, he says, "I am the least of the Apostles."" (Augustine sermon 27)
The name "Paul" therefore fits Paul's self-identity. There is other evidence of humility in self-reference in the New Testament:
a) the anonymity of the gospels, Acts, and Hebrews.
b) the frequent use of informal name-forms and praenomina. I hope to devote a future blog post to this phenomenon.

3. The name Saul represented his membership of the tribe of Benjamin, which he no longer valued (Phil 3:4-7). Saul and Luke were familiar with 1 Sam 9:1-2 (see Acts 13:21), from which he had been given the name Saul. These same verses (and 1 Sam 10:23) say that Saul "stood head and shoulders above  everyone else". The name Paul (small) could therefore have been a conscious rejection of what the name Saul represented. Saul (tall) became Paul (small). The phonetic similarity of the names also suggests a connection between them and demonstrates that they were probably not both given at birth (see above).

4. The name of the proconsul, Paul, could have given Saul the idea of taking the same name.

5. The name Paul, when used as a cognomen, was very distinguished. See E.A. Judge's paper here. When Greeks were granted Roman citizenship they retained their Greek name as their Roman cognomen. Colin Hemer notes here (p182) that "most of the Tarsian expatriates I have noted in the epigraphy, at Athens or elsewhere, bear Greek names in a Greek context". How, then, could the name Paul have come into Saul's family? Murphy O'Connor (p42) judges it "impossible" that such a distinguished name should be held by a Jew in Tarsus, where citizenship had been granted only a generation earlier. The problem is solved if we suppose that Paul was not his cognomen but rather an agnomen taken in adult life.

Counter-arguments
The name Paul is Latin, whereas most new names taken by Christians in the New Testament were Greek. However, as McDonough (5) points out, only a little Latin would be needed to understand the name. It's like someone taking the name "Petit".

There is a Jew called Paul in the 3rd century Aphrodisias inscription and another in the 4th century Sardis inscription. These Pauls are sometimes taken as evidence that the name Paul was commonly  used as an equivalent to the name Saul. However the name combination Saul-Paul is unlikely since the names do not even start with the same letter.  If someone wanted a near homophone of Saul they would surely have chosen another name, such as the Latin Sallus or the Greek Sallous or Saulikon. Furthermore, there is little evidence that Jews followed conventions about which Greek/Latin name was considered the equivalent of which Hebrew/Aramaic name and such double birth-names were, in any case, not common.

Summary
After moving to Jerusalem he was given the name Saul because he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Later, perhaps to counter the influence of the arrogantly named Bar-Jesus/Elymas, Saul took the name Paul (small). The presence of Sergius Paulus may have brought the name to Saul's attention. This Latin name, meaning small, symbolized Paul's rejection of his Hebrew name, which represented pride in his membership of the tribe of Benjamin and physical stature.

Notes
(1) Margaret H. Williams "The Use of Alternative Names by Diaspora Jews in Graeco-Roman Antiquity" Journal for the Study of Judaism 38 (2007) 307-327
(2) R. Bauckham, ‘Paul and other Jews with Latin names in the New Testament’ in Paul, Luke and the Graeco-Roman World ed. A.Christophersen et al Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 217. P 208
(3) Gospel Women p182
(4) Murphy O'connor (Paul: A Critical Life p44) writes condescendingly and without reason that Augustine's view "has nothing to recommend it, except as an opportunity for rhetorical piety"
(5) Sean M. McDonough, "Small Change: Saul to Paul, Again", JBL 125 (2006): 390-391

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Elymas-BarJesus named himself after Elam and Jesus

Here I reproduce some earlier thoughts in support of the work of Rick Strelan who argues that the false prophet, Elymas (Acts 13:6-11), took his name from Elam, the grandson of Noah, and that he became a Christian of sorts and named himself "BarJesus" accordingly.  See Strelan "Who Was Bar Jesus (Acts 13,6-12)?" Biblica 85 (2004) 65-81. Acts 13:6-11 reads:
"When they had gone though the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen - the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun. Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand"
The name “Elymas”
Commentators have long been puzzled about how the name "Elymas" can be interpreted to mean "magician" in the passage above. However, Rick Strelan appears to have resolved the problem. In his paper he suggests that the magician had taken the name of Elam, the eldest son of Shem, the son of Noah, and that Elam was considered an archetypal magician. The name "Elymas" would then have signified "magician" and this would explain Acts 13:8. In support of his proposal Strelan quotes Josephus: "For Elymos left behind him the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians" (Ant 1.6.4) and notes that the magoi were commonly associated with the Persians. There is also evidence, not mentioned by Strelan, that Shem was considered a magician. Firstly, in the Book of Jubilees a book of healing arts is given by Noah to his eldest son, Shem:
"And we explained to Noah all the medicines of their diseases, together with their seductions, how he might heal them with herbs of the earth. And Noah wrote down all things in a book as we instructed him concerning every kind of medicine. Thus the evil spirits were precluded from (hurting) the sons of Noah. And he gave all that he had written to Shem, his eldest son; for he loved him exceedingly above all his sons."
The Treatise of Shem is a Pseudepigraphic work, written in the name of Shem, probably in the first century BC. It is an astrological treatise and therefore shows that Shem was associated with astrology.

To sum up: Noah's eldest son was Shem, whose eldest son was Elam, whose name was written "Elymos" by Josephus in the first century. The evidence suggests that there was a tradition that the magical arts of astrology and perhaps healing passed down the Noah-Shem-Elam line. Therefore, by accepting the name "Elymas", Bar-Jesus was identifying himself as a magician in an ancient Jewish tradition.

The name "Bar-Jesus"
Strelan argues that Elymas was, like Simon Magus, a follower of Jesus, of sorts. He suggests that Elymas took the name "Bar-Jesus" because he considered himself to be a disciple of Jesus. Strelan cites several cases where the term "Bar" or "Son of" is used to mean "disciple of". While "Jesus" was a common name for Jews, Strelan is probably right. Someone who had named himself after Elam and had then started to perform his magic in the name of Jesus, might well have taken the name "Son of Jesus" to reflect the new source of his power or inspiration. Also, Paul's accusation, "You son of the Devil" seems to be a reference to the presumptuous name "BarJesus". Paul seems to be saying here, "you are not a son of Jesus but a son of the Devil". In a future post I hope to argue that Luke here is contrasting Saul's humble name "Paul", meaning "small", with the magician's arrogant self-naming.

Strelan goes on to suggest that Luke intended to suggest that the name "Bar-Jesus somehow represented the name "Elymas". This suggestion seems entirely unnecessary, given Strelan's own convincing explanation of the name "Elymas".

Atomus
It is clear that "Elymas" was not his birth name. The name "Bar-Jesus", on any hypothesis, cannot have been his only name in infancy, so he must have had another name. Josephus describes a Jewish magician from Cyprus:
"At the time when Felix was procurator of Judaea, he beheld her; and, inasmuch as she surpassed all other women in beauty, he conceived a passion for the lady. He sent to her one of his friends, a Cyprian Jew named Atomus, who pretended to be a magician, in an effort to persuade her to leave her husband and to marry Felix." (Josephus Ant.20.142)
Both Atomus and Elymas were Jewish magicians from Cyprus who associated with high Roman officials. Felix was procurator from A.D. 52-59 so Atomus incident was only about a decade later than the Elymas incident. It is therefore chronologically possible that they were one and the same person. If, as seems likely, Elymas was employed by Sergius Paulus, he might well have lost his job after the encounter with Paul. If his other name, Bar-Jesus, indicates that he had been in contact with the Jesus movement, he may have had Judean connections. Thus it would not be surprising if Elymas left the employment of Sergius Paulus and attached himself to Felix in Judea.

The similarity in sound between "Atomus" and "Elymas" makes the identification more likely. The western text of Acts has "Etoimos", which may be a form of the name "Atomus". There are many examples of cases where Jews were given a new name, in part, because of its phonetic resemblance to the original name (Baucham, Gospel Women 182-4, lists Silvanus-Silas, Joseph-Justus-Barsabbas, Jesus-Justus, Saul-Paul, Symeon-Simon, Alkimos-Jakim/Eliakim, Aster-Esther, Cleopas-Clopas, Jason-Jesus, Mnason/Mnaseas-Manasseh, Mousaios-Moses, Annia-Hannah, Annianus-Hanina/Hananiah, Julius/Julanus-Judah, Lea-Leah, Maria-Mary, Rufus-Reuben and I would add BarKosiba/BarKokhba/BarKoziba, Titus-Timothy and Mary-Magdalene).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paul's churches consisted of households, not house-church cells

1 Cor 14:23 refers to occasions when the "whole church comes together" and Gaius was "host to me and to the whole church" (Rom 16:23). In addition to these meetings of the entire church, many assume that there were also smaller house-church cells. This view depends on:
The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house (οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλησίᾳ), greet you warmly in the Lord. (1 Cor 16:19)
Greet Prisca and Aquila .... Greet also the church in their house. (Rom 16:3-5)
See also Col 4:15 and Philemon 2.

Now, it was common for whole households to follow the faith of the head of the house (Acts 10:2: 16:15; 16:29-34; 18:8; 1 Cor 16:15). In light of this, E.A. Judge has suggested that the phrase "the church in their house" may simply refer to the assembly of believers who were members of that particular household (Social Distinctives of the Christians in the First Century p25). The assembly in the house of Aquila and Prisca may have comprised only their family members and servants. I offer the following observations which support this view.

1.  Aquila and Prisca and, presumably, the members of their household had previously been part of the  Corinthian church,  so they would naturally want to send greetings to Corinth after moving to Ephesus (1 Cor 16:19). It is hard to explain why Paul mentions "the church in their house" as senders of warm greetings if it consisted mainly of Ephesians who had not been part of the Corinthian church. Paul would then have been making an invidious distinction between them and the other Ephesian believers.

2.  Similarly, Paul greets the assembly that meets in the house of Prisca and Aquila in Rome (Rom 16:3-5). This is explicable if the members of that assembly were dependents of Prisca and Aquila who had known Paul from their time in Corinth and Ephesus.

3.  We have no evidence that Prisca and Aquila formed churches around themselves. In Corinth this role was taken by Titius Justus (Acts 18:7), =Stephanas (1 Cor 16:15), and Crispus (Acts 18:8). In Asia the role was taken by Epaenetus (Rom 16:5) and Paul preached there in the hall of Tyrannus, not from the house of Aquila and Prisca.

4.  Prisca and Aquila were with Paul in Ephesus (1 Cor 16:19) shortly before Pentecost (1 Cor 16:8). Paul planned to send the collection to Judea the following spring at the latest (1 Cor 16:3-6). Acts 20:2-6) confirms that the collection was sent in the spring, at the very beginning of the travel season, and there is no reason to suppose that it was a later spring than the one envisaged in 1 Corinthians. Romans was written before this time. Now, if the assembly of believers in the house of Prisca and Aquila in Rom 16:3-5 consisted of people other than the dependents of the couple, then we have a rather compressed chronology. We would have to suppose that Prisca and Aquila travelled to Rome soon after 1 Corinthians was written and that within about 4 months of arrival they established a house church and that someone then traveled from Rome to Corinth before the end of the same travel season and told Paul about this house church. This does not seem likely. Why would believers in Rome so quickly join the house church of Prisca and Aquila in preference to their own house churches? If Prisca and Aquila were successful evangelists, why is there no evidence of this from their time in Corinth or Ephesus? The problems are solved if we suppose that the assembly consisted of dependents of Prisca and Aquila. Paul knew that they had travelled with the couple to Rome and would continue to be part of their household. There is then no need to supposed that Paul had received recent news from Rome.

5. The (putative) author of Colossians had not visited Colossae, yet he appears to have known Nympha and the assembly in her house (Col 4:15). It is possible to imagine Nympha and many believing members of her household visiting Paul (in Ephesus for example). It is hard to imagine that "Paul" would have come to know the members of this assembly if it consisted of members of many households.

For these reasons I think that the assembly of believers in the house of Prisca and Aquila consisted of members of their household.

If this hypothesis is correct we can abandon the romantic notion that Prisca and Aquila travelled to Ephesus and to Rome to plant churches. They were the target of persecution (Rom 16:4) and had left Italy because of persecution (Acts 18:2), so it is most likely that they left Corinth because of persecution, just as Sosthenes did following his beating (Acts 18:17; 1 Cor 1:1). Presumably they returned home to Rome as soon as they could following the death of Claudius.

Some conjecture that Stephanas was the head of a house church cell and that his household placed themselves at the service of the other members of that cell (1 Cor 16:15). This now looks less likely. Rather, as I have argued before, Stephanas was Gaius, the host of the whole church.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The sexist hand behind P46 on Julia, and Junia

Here I discuss why Papyrus 46, our oldest copy of Romans, corrupts "Julia, Nereus" in Rom 16:15 and also why this same manuscript replaced "Junia" with "Julia" in Rom 16:7. This blog post improves on my earlier post.

At Rom 16:15 most of the manuscripts read,

ΑΣΠΑΣΑΣΘΕ ΦΙΛΟΛΟΓΟΝ ΚΑΙ ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ ΝΗΡΕΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΝ ΑΔΕΛΦΗΝ ΑΥΤΟΥ
Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and the sister of him

However, in place of ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ ΝΗΡΕΑ, P46 reads: ΒΗΡΕΑ ΚΑΙ ΑΟΥΛΙΑΝ. This emendation seems inexplicable, especially since ΒΗΡΕΑ and ΑΟΥΛΙΑΝ do not appear to be attested names.

Royse's explanation
James Royse ("Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri" 2008 p333-4) gives a very promising explanation. He suggests that P46 was copied from a manuscript that had the names Julia and Nereus reversed, and that an "Α" and a "Β" had been written above the names to indicate the original order. This method of indicating a transposition is known from other manuscripts, we are told. Thus, Royse suggests that P46 was copied from a text which read like this:

Β------Α
ΝΗΡΕΑΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ

The scribe of P46 then mistakenly assumed that the "Β" and the "Α" were intended to replace the "Ν" and the "Ι", respectively, rather than to correct the order of the two names. However, Royse has difficulty accounting for the ΚΑΙ (and) between the two names in P46, and he offers no explanation for why the names Julia and Nereus were reversed in the first place.

My explanation, building on Royse's idea
Name order was very important in the ancient world, the most important person being named first. Therefore sexism was the likely motive for someone to want to place Nereus, a man, before Julia, a woman.

It would make no sense to write "Greet Philologus and Nereus, Julia and the sister of him". This sentence divides the four people into two groups and there is no male in the second group so the "of him" is left with no-one to refer to. The corrector, I suggested, wanted the extra ΚΑΙ (and), intending the text to read "Greet Philologus and Nereus and Julia and the sister of him".  For the corrector, who was conscious of the importance of name order, Philologus was the most important person, so for him the "of him" naturally refers back to Philologus.

Contrary to Royse, I suggest that the exemplar used by the scribe of P46 had the original text, albeit with corrections added above the line and perhaps also in the margin. The sexist corrector added the  "Β" and the "Α" thus:

Β-----    Α
ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝΝΗΡΕΑ

He also indicated that the ΚΑΙ should be added. Then, uncertain whether the scribe would understand the "Β" and the "Α", he gave a second indication that the names Julia and Nereus should be reversed. He then passed the manuscript to the scribe and asked the scribe to copy it. His fears that the scribe would not understand the "Β" and the "Α" were well founded. The scribe understood the second indication, so he swapped the two names, but he replaced the first two letters of the swapped names by "Β" and "Α" respectively. Thus, he wrote ΒΗΡΕΑ ΚΑΙ ΑΟΥΛΙΑΝ.  Royse writes that his explanation comes at the expense of hypothesizing a textual variant for which there is no surviving example. My modification of Royse's hypothesis avoids that problem. Only two people need have been involved: someone marked up a manuscript and gave it to a scribe to copy.

Why did the scribe write "Julia" instead of "Junia" at Rom 16:7?
Before copying out Rom 16:7 the scribe's eye may have been caught by all the stuff added at 16:15 in his exemplar. Having read the name "Julia" there his mind would have been primed to misread or miswrite "Junia" as "Julia" when he came to copy 16:7. That is to say, he had "Julia" on his mind because of the fuss around 16:15 and this made him write "Julia" in 16:7. Thus, I think the presence of Julia in P46 at 16:7 provides further confirmation that his exemplar had corrections at 16:15.


I am grateful for Carlson's discussion here.

Update 9th March:
There has been some useful discussion of these variants on the Evangelical Textual Criticism Blog, here. Tommy Wasserman accepts my explanation for the addition of the ΚΑΙ but prefers to return to Royse's two-step process in which the two names were already reversed in manuscript that was corrected by the addition of the interlinear "B" and "A". In the comments Edgar Ebojo points to quite a few errors in this part of P46, making it perfectly possible that the original reversal of the two names was made by accident without sexist motives.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ephesians known to Theophilus, and the location of Luke-Acts

Here I expand on an argument presented by Aletheia, who observes that Jason (Acts 17:5), Tyrannus (Acts 19:9), and Alexander (Acts 19:33) are mentioned in Acts without introduction, as if they were already known to the intended audience.

Below are all of the named persons in Luke-Acts, giving he language used to introduce them when they are first mentioned. I have divided them into three groups.

The first group contains the 38 persons who are introduced with a phrase of the form "a man named". For example, in Acts 5:1 Ananias is introduced with the phrase, "Ἀνὴρ δέ τις Ἁνανίας ὀνόματι" (But a certain man named Ananias). Acts 18:7 introduces Titius Justus in a similar way: "τινὸς ὀνόματι Τιτίου Ἰούστου" (of a certain man named Titius Justus). Strictly speaking the extra words do not give any additional information about Ananias or Titius Justus, but they do serve to indicate to the reader that the person is being introduced for the first time. Theophilus (or any other reader) then knows not to ask himself questions like, "has this Ananias been mentioned before?", "is this Ananias a famous person whom I am expected to know?", or "Have I met this Titius Justus?". By using a phrase like, "a certain man named", Luke indicates that he is not taking for granted that his audience has background knowledge of the person.

Group 1: Those who are introduced with "named" (or "a certain")
Luke 1:5  there was a priest named Zechariah
Luke 1:5  her name was Elizabeth
Luke 1:27  a man whose name was Joseph
Luke 1:27  The virgin's name was Mary
Luke 2:25  whose name was Simeon
Luke 5:27  a tax collector named Levi
Luke 8:41  there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue
Luke 10:38  where a woman named Martha
Luke 10:39  she had a sister named Mary
Luke 16:20  a poor man named Lazarus
Luke 19:1  a man was there named Zacchaeus
Luke 23:26  they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene
Luke 23:50  a good and righteous man named Joseph
Luke 24:18  then one of them, whose name was Cleopas
Acts 5:1  But a man named Ananias
Acts 5:34  a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law
Acts 7:58  at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Acts 8:9  Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic
Acts 9:10  a disciple in Damascus named Ananias
Acts 9:33  a man named Aeneas
Acts 9:36  a disciple whose name was Tabitha
Acts 9:43  a certain Simon, a tanner
Acts 10:1  a man named Cornelius
Acts 11:28  One of them named Agabus
Acts 12:13  a maid named Rhoda
Acts 13:6  a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus
Acts 16:1  a disciple named Timothy
Acts 16:14  a certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God ...
Acts 17:34  a woman named Damaris
Acts 18:2  a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recetly come from Italy with his wife Priscilla
Acts 18:7  a man named Titius Justus
Acts 18:24  a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria
Acts 19:14  Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva
Acts 19:24  A man named Demetrius, a silversmith
Acts 20:9  A young man named Eutychus
Acts 24:1  an attorney, a certain Tertullus
Acts 27:1  a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius.
Acts 28:7  the leading man of the island, named Publius

Of the remaining persons, many are introduced with a significant piece of information that serves to identify the individual. Often a title is all that is necessary. They are shown in Group 2 below.


Group 2: Those who are given an introduction
Luke 1:5 who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah
Luke 1:5 In the days of King Herod of Judea
Luke 1:13 and you will name him John
Luke 1:19 I am Gabriel
Luke 1:31 you will name him Jesus 
Luke 2:2 while Quirinius was governor of Syria
Luke 3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius
Luke 3:1  when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea
Luke 3:1  and Herod was ruler of Galilee
Luke 3:1 and his brother Philip
Luke 3:1 and Lysanias ruler of Abilenne
Luke 3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas
Luke 3:4 the prophet Isaiah
Luke 3:19 Herod the ruler
Luke 3:19 Herodias, his brother's wife
Luke 3:23 He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, son of Matthat, etc....
Luke 4:27 Naaman the Syrian
Luke 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher.
Luke 5:10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
Luke 6:13-14 and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot
Luke 7:40 Simon, I have something to say to you
Luke 8:2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna
Luke 23:18 release Barabbas for us!" This was a man who had been put in prison
Luke 24:10 Mary the mother of James
Acts 1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us..." So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Acts 2:16 the prophet Joel
Acts 3:26 And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel
Acts 4:6 with Annas the high priest, CaiaphasJohn, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family
Acts 4:36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas
Acts 5:1  Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira
Acts 6:5 and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, ProchorusNicanorTimonParmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

Acts 12:1 King Herod
Acts 12:12 the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark
Acts 12:20 Blastus, the kings chamberlain
Acts 13:1 there were prophets and teachers: BarnabasSimeon who was called NigerLucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul.
Acts 13:7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man
Acts 13:21 then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin
Acts 13:22 David son of Jesse
Acts 15:22 Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers
Acts 17:34 including Dionysius the Areopagite
Acts 18:2 Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recetly come from Italy with his wife Priscilla
Acts 18:8 Crispus, the official of the synagogue
Acts 18:12 Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia
Acts 18:17 Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue
Acts 19:22 So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia
Acts 19:29 Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's travel companions.
Acts 20:4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia.
Acts 21:16 the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple
Acts 23:26 "Claudius Lysias to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings.
Acts 24:24 when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish,
Acts 22:27 Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus
Acts 23:2 the high priest Ananias
Acts 23:24 Felix the governor
Acts 25:13 King Agrippa and Bernice


Finally, listed in Group 3 below, are the 25 individuals who are mentioned with no introduction at all. In most cases the person was an Old Testament character or public figure who was famous to the original audience. Patriarchs and emperors, for example, required no introduction because everyone knew who they were.

Group 3: Those who are given no introduction
Luke 1:3 most excellent Theophilus (Theophilus was known to himself and those for whom Luke wrote)
Luke 1:5 descendant of Aaron (A major OT character, presumably known to the audience)
Luke 1:16 "the people of Israel"(these words are spoken to Zechariah, who knew of Israel)
Luke 1:17 "with the spirit and power of Elijah"(these words are spoken to Zechariah, who knew of Elijah)
Luke 1:27 house of David (A major OT character, presumably known to the audience)
Luke 1:33 "house of Jacob" (these words are spoken to Mary, who knew who Jacob was)
Luke 1:55 "to Abraham and his descendants" (these words are spoken to Elizabeth, who knew who Abaham was)
Luke 2:1 a decree went out from Emperor Augustus (Everyone knew who Augustus was)
Luke 2:22 the law of Moses (A major OT character, presumably known to the audience)
Luke 11:29 "the sign of Jonah"(Jesus's audience will have known who Jonah was)
Luke 11:31 "the wisdom of Solomon"(Jesus's audience will have known who Solomon was)
Luke 11:51 "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah"(the lawyers addressed by Jesus here will have known who Abel and Zechariah were)
Luke 17:26 "just as it was in the days of Noah" (the disciples, addressed by Jesus here, will have heard of Noah)
Luke 17:28 "just as it was in the days of Lot"(the disciples, addressed by Jesus here, will have heard of Lot)
Acts 5:36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up" (the council, addressed here, will have heard of Theudas)
Acts 5:37 "After him Judas the Galilean rose up"(the council, addressed here, will have heard of Theudas)
Acts 7:9 "The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph"(the council, addressed here, had heard of Joseph)
Acts 7:16 "from the sons of Hamor in Shechem"(Stephen speaks here as if Hamor is known to his audience. Is he trying to impress the council with his knowledge of scripture?)
Acts 7:40 "saying to Aaron"(the council, addressed here, had heard of Joseph)
Acts 11:28 during the reign of Claudius (everyone had heard of Claudius)
Luke 4:38 he entered Simon's house
Luke 5:8 but when Simon Peter saw it
Acts 12:17 "Tell this to James"

Acts 19:9 the lecture hall of Tyrannus
Acts 19:33 Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward.
Acts 17:5 they attacked Jason's house

The mentions of Simon-Peter and James, shown in brown above fit the same pattern. These were two of the most famous members of the early church. Paul took it for granted that the Galatians and the Corinthians knew of them, so it is not unlikely that Luke too expected his audience to know of them.

The implication of all this, Aletheia argues, is that the hall of Tyrannus, Alexander, and Jason (shown in blue above) were also known to the original audience of Acts. Let us look at each of these three cases in turn.

The hall of Tyrannus
Acts 19:9 reads:
When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (ἐν τῇ σχολῇ Τυράννου). This continued for two years....
The hall of Tyrannus is mentioned abruptly without introduction. This would make sense if the hall of Tyrannus was a famous venue. We might similarly say, "he sang at the Royal Albert Hall" or "she conducted at the Sydney Opera House". The problem is that Paul would not have been able to afford to rent a venue that was famous across the mediterranean. Some later manuscripts add the word τινός after Τυράννου, so that we get "in the lecture hall of a certain Tyrannus. The western text goes further by specifying that Paul used the hall during the hottest hours when the rent for the hall will have been lowest: "in the lecture hall of a certain Tyrannus, from eleven o'clock in the morning to four in the afternoon". All these textual variants seem designed to overcome the problem that Paul would not have been able to afford to rent a venue that was so famous that it required no introduction.


The problem, of course, disappears if Luke's audience was in Ephesus, where the hall of Tyrannus stood. They would have known the place where the faith was introduced to their city, even if it was a modest venue.

Luke followed the same rules when mentioning places and people. Named places that were well known  required no introduction are: Luke 2:1; Luke 2:22; Luke 2:27; Luke 3:3: Luke 4:23, 26; Luke 6:17; Luke 10:12, 13, 30; Luke 11:30; Luke 13:4; Luke 17:11; Luke 18:35; Acts 2:9-11; Acts 4:36; Acts 6:9; Acts 7:2, 4, 10, 11, 16, 29, 30, 36; Acts 8:27; Acts 8:40; Acts 9:2; Acts 9:30; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:36; Acts 11:19-20; Acts 13:4, 6, 13,14; Acts 13:51; Acts 14:25; Acts 16:6-9, 11; Acts 17:1, 10, 15; Acts 18:1, 2, 18, 19, 27; Acts 20:13-15; Acts 21:1, 7; Acts 27:1, 5, 7, 17; Acts 28:12, 13, 15
Lesser-known places are given an introduction:
Luke 1:9 cf Luke 1:21; Luke 1:26; Luke 2:4 cf Luke 2:11, 15; Luke 3:1; Luke 4:31 cf Luke 7:1; Luke 5:1; Luke 7:11; Luke 8:26 cf Luke 8:37; Luke 9:10; Luke 19:29 cf Luke 21:37 & Acts 1:12; Luke 23:33; Luke 23:51; Luke 24:13; Acts 1:19; Acts 3:2 cf Acts 3:10; Acts 3:11 cf Acts 5:12; Acts 8:26; Acts 9:11; Acts 14:6 cf Acts 16:2; Acts 16:12; Acts 27:5, 8, 12, 16, 27; Acts 28:1;

Alexander
The abrupt mention of Alexander in the Theatre of Ephesus at Acts 19:33 has long puzzled commentators. Much is not clear (to us). Was Alexander was a representative of the (non-Christian) Jews. Was he an artisan like Demetrius, as 2 Tim 4:14 might suggest? Was he a Christian, pushed forward to answer the complaints of the crowd? Or was he the town clark (Acts 19:35). The episode is baffling to us, but it need not have been baffling to readers who knew Alexander.

Jason
I argued here that Jason was given the name "Aristarchus", yet Acts, strangely, does not tell us that the two names belonged to the same person. This problem is solved if we suppose that the audience of Acts knew Jason-Aristarchus. The fact that he is mentioned without introduction in Acts 17:5 confirms that he was known to the intended audience of Acts. While Jason was from Thessalonica, there are hints that he did not remain there. He was in Corinth when Rom 16:21 was written, and if he was Aristarchus he was earlier in Ephesus (Acts 19:29) and he later travelled with Paul and Luke (Acts 27:2). We do not know where he settled or in which Christian communities he became well known, so he does not help us to determine the location of the audience of Acts.

Crispus-Sosthenes
It can be shown the Crispus (Acts 18:8) was given the name "Sosthenes"(Acts 18:17). See my article here and further discussion here. Acts 18:17 would have made sense to Luke's audience only if they knew that Sosthenes was Crispus. Since Sosthenes moved to Ephesus (1 Cor 1:1), the Ephesian community of believers would have known him.

Conclusion
Luke expected his audience to already know Alexander, Sosthenes, the hall of Tyrranus, and Jason. Three of these four resided in Ephesus, and the fourth, Jason, may have done. This suggests that Acts was written for the believers in Ephesus.